Greatest hat-trick ever? Rivaldo's triple for Barcelona vs Valencia remembered 20 years on

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The Brazilian team of the early 2000s is the stuff of legend.

They were simply one of the greatest teams ever assembled, winning the 2002 World Cup at a canter thanks to the likes of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Cafu.

Two second-half goals from Ronaldo saw them overcome Germany in the final of the global bonanza as they booked their spot among the immortal.

One of the chief driving forces behind the stratospheric success of that group, however, was the contributions of Rivaldo.

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The Barcelona legend was one of the finest players of his generation, making his name at the Camp Nou after signing from Deportivo La Coruna in 1997.

The Brazilian would quickly become a sensation in the famous colours of Catalonia, notching up sublime performance after sublime performance.

However, Rivaldo highlighted his immense import with one incredible performance in particular on this day 20 years ago.

On the final day of the 2000/01 La Liga season, Barcelona were tussling it out with Valencia for the last of the coveted Champions League spots.

The Catalan giants went on to win an exhilarating clash 3-2 with none other than Rivaldo baggings all three of their goals.

This was no hat-trick to be scoffed at though. All three goals were simply sensational strikes with the Brazilian seemingly allergic to entering the 18-yard area.

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The first was a rocket of a free-kick rifled home from distance before the second, a similar strike from open play, rattled past the hapless keeper.

Just when fans may have been thinking it can't get any better, Rivaldo showed that he had actually saved his best for last.

With his back to the goal, Rivaldo controlled a fizzing 88th pass on his chest, steadied and pulled off one of the most incredible overhead kicks you could ever hope to see.

Bicycle's from outside the area? Stop it.

The 1999 Ballon d'Or winner was simply unplayable on his day and poor old Valencia really came up against him at his dizzying best.

Just over a year later, Rivaldo was lifting the World Cup having played a starring role in Brazil's electric campaign.

He would eventually retire from the professional game at the ripe old age of 41, leaving behind him the sort off legacy that is beyond the dreams of most players.

You can be certain however, that for those Valencia players, any dreams they may be having that involve Rivaldo are they sort they would rather forget.

(Credit: The Football Terrace)

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Paul Conolly

Interested in: Liverpool, UFC, Formula 1, Boxing, Golf, Tennis, Cricket

Here for all things Boxing, UFC, Tennis, F1, Cricket and Golf. Thanks to several zoom quizzes, can officially say I know more about sport than the average gran. Unified Table Tennis champion of my flat.

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